How the New York City Chancellor Prepared for a Congressional Grilling

David C. Banks consulted his top deputies. As the police cleared out pro-Palestinian demonstrators who had seized a building at Columbia University last week, he was there on campus — and went inside to survey the scene.

At a recent meeting with reporters, Mr. Banks, the New York City schools chancellor, outlined the ways he had prepared to testify on Wednesday in front of a subcommittee of the House Education and Work Force Committee examining antisemitism in schools, as student demonstrations have intensified in response to the Israel-Hamas war.

He can expect a grilling over concerns of antisemitism at city schools, including at his alma mater, Hillcrest High School in Queens. In recent months, Republican members of the committee have aggressively questioned leaders from some of the nation’s most elite universities over accusations that they have allowed antisemitic harassment and hate to fester on their campuses. Two presidents, Claudine Gay of Harvard and Liz Magill of University of Pennsylvania, eventually resigned, in part because of a strong backlash over their performance in Congress.

Another president, Nemat Shafik of Columbia University, returned to upheaval on her own campus, which she sought to contain by calling in the police to arrest hundreds of students and other activists. In recent days, she opted to cancel the school’s main graduation ceremony anyway, angering many students and families.

Mr. Banks offered little insight into how he might tackle questions on thorny issues that public schools districts have faced, like how to discipline students when protests over the war veer into hate speech or how to respond to teachers’ social media posts supporting the Palestinian cause.

But he is expected to deliver a message that both antisemitism and all other forms of hate have no place in public schools. The chancellor said that as a Black man “who is keenly aware of the trauma and pain and oppression that my own people have suffered in America,” he feels for the families both of Israeli hostages and of children killed in Gaza.

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